Dreamy Dairy-free Lemon “Crème” Brûlée with Fresh Berries

We had just finished picking like a gagillion berries from a local organic farm (shout out to Whitley Farms in Sharpsburg, GA), so I had to find something special to make with them.


I’ve been mentally masticating on custards lately. Some of my attempts have not been so successful. But I wanted to keep at it until I got it right. Nothing brightens berries like lemon, so why not a fresh take on crème brûlée? – lemon with berries it is. And of course, I wanted to make it dairy free 🙂 As a bonus, it’s basically paleo-friendly (look for my suggestions at the end to make this full on paleo).

This recipe is super easy, but will certainly impress your friends with even the most discerning palates.

Prep for this one is minimal and custard cook time is about 10 minutes. The custard takes about 35-45 minutes to bake, and then an additional 2 minutes or so to finish. You could easily make the custard ahead of time, keep in the fridge, and bake just before you’re ready to serve.

For this recipe, you will need:

2 1/3 c. full fat coconut milk
2/3 c. nondairy milk
1 t. lemon oil
1 t. vanilla
1 T. tapioca flour
3 eggs + 3 egg yolks
5 t. fresh lemon zest
1/4 c. + 2 T. evaporated cane juice
a few tablespoons of brown sugar for finishing
1 1/4 c. chopped strawberries
1 1/4 c. blackberries
1 1/4 c. blueberries

You’ll need 8 small ramekins (8 oz. capacity). Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

First, zest about 4 lemons – you want at least 5 t. fresh lemon zest.

Next, prepare your eggs and egg yolks for your custard.


In  a small saucepan, combine the coconut milk, nondairy milk, vanilla, and 1/4 c. of evaporated cane juice. Add the tablespoon of tapioca flour and whisk until smooth. Scald the milk – i.e. heat the milk on medium heat until the milk just starts to bubble at the edges. Turn the heat down to a simmer and stir constantly until the mixture thickens.


How do you know when it’s done? The custard will just coat the back of a wooden spoon such that if you make streak, it holds shape.


Remove the custard from the heat and allow it to cool for about 15 minutes.

Next, beat the eggs and egg yolks well.

It is key that you do not curdle the eggs/egg yolks with a milk mixture that is too hot. How do you avoid that? Temper the beaten eggs with a spoonful of the milk mixture at a time. Add one spoonful of the milk mixture to the egg mixture and mix, allowing the egg mixture to rest before adding more milk mixture. You’ll continue to do this until you’ve added about 3/4 of the milk mixture to the egg mixture. Add the remaining milk mixture and mix well.

Next, add the lemon oil and 3 t. of lemon zest – mix.

Pour the custard into the ramekins and add fresh berries to each ramekin (about 2 T. for each ramekin).


To bake the custard, place the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Place the sheet in the oven and fill the bottom of the baking sheet with at least 1″ of water (more if you have a deeper baking sheet/pan).


Bake the custards for 35-45 minutes, until the center is set (i.e. it doesn’t jiggle when you move the sheet or pan). Remove the custards when set.

Preheat the oven to a high broil. The final baking step of the custards is to add a sprinkle of brown sugar to each ramekin and broil for about 2 minutes (to carmelize the sugar and create the sugar crust that crème brûlée is so well known for).


In a small bowl, combine the remaining berries, lemon zest, and evaporated cane juice and toss. This is your fresh berry topping.


Top the crème brûlée with the fresh berry dressing and enjoy warm!


I promised I would add a few notes on how to paleo-ize this dish. Substitute palm sugar for the brown sugar and substitute honey or maple syrup for the evaporated cane juice. Note, if you’re using honey or maple syrup, you’ll need to reduce the amount of nondairy milk that you use to account for the extra liquid.

And viola! Bon appetite 🙂

– Nicole


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